FOLLOW-UP : THE WISDOM OF THE LAX BRO

How dare you Trevor! What are you some sort of flip-flopping politician?! Or have you just gone crazy? That's the imagined response that I believe that I will receive to this next blog, which I am creating a week after I wrote, "An Open Letter to Lax Bros : Respect the Game". Usually, I am a bit more critical of myself than others are though, so I might be overdramatizing it a bit.

It's seems in our culture that we are very prone to taking one extreme side or the other.
For example, on the issue of gun-control rights, one person might make the logical argument that there should be more background checks for gun owners. However, in our society, there is this huge backlash from that statement that says, "You can't take my guns! This is my second amendment right to bear arms!". From the other side, someone might make the logical argument that there our country needs to do a better job in the mental health department and be more attentive to the needs of people with psychological disorders. The huge backlash comes back at them saying, "Well crazy people wouldn't kill so many people unless they didn't have guns! So, we should just do without guns altogether!". The bickering goes on and on, people entrench themselves in their stances and nothing gets resolved.

By the way, PLEASE note that I am not taking one side on this gun issue one way or the other. That's the last thing I need right now. All I am saying is that we really seem to struggle having a sensible conversation in the middle ground. That sense of extremes seems to be reflected in our society in many ways. There are either staunch Republicans or liberal Democrats. There are drunks or teetotalers. There are jocks or nerds. Good people and bad people. Religious fundamentalists or hell-bound atheists.

The nature of life though, is that there is a middle ground in everything that we do, say, believe or feel.
Our limited amount of perception only allows us to witness so much that is going on in the world around us. For example, there is a wide spectrum of light, but our eyes and brains only allow us to take in a certain range of colors. There is an enormous range of sound waves that our ears are not able to pick up on at all. So, we might believe we have the right answer, but that is only a thought in our head. We might judge something to be good or bad, but that is simply our own subjective experience. Unfortunately, the consciousness of our own experience is not that simply explained.

So, last week when I wrote "An Open Letter to Lax Bros : Respect the Game", I received a number of responses. Some people wrote to me or commented along the lines of, "Trevor, thank you so much for writing that. I'm so tired of this lax bro culture in our sport. We need to end that whole thing!". I was appreciative of those responses as they seemed to be understanding my main point and wanting to change the negative attitude in the game. The only problem with that mentality is that it blames the lax bro, instead of noticing that there is a strong, but not all-inclusive, correlation between the image and attitude. Another response was basically, "Trevor, what are you, some sort of old fogey? This is just kids having fun and expressing their individuality and being themselves. Who made you God of how people should live in the lacrosse world?". I was appreciative of those responses as well as it allowed me to see some of the points that I may have missed and forgot to examine in that topic. However, those responses overlooked the fact that I can only write about so much in one blog and that I had actually touched on those topics in previous writings. But, you know what? Both sides are completely right! And they are also wrong. Just like me!

How can that possibly be? Well, there is always a middle ground. Never once in that article did I say that there was anything wrong, per se, with wearing certain clothes, or having a hair style, or talking a certain way, or being interested in certain things, or behaving in certain ways. Like I wrote in the first paragraph, that would be like the pot calling the kettle black as I certainly went through various trends in the game and ways of being as I grew and matured throughout the years. A third response that I received from guys who most people would consider well-known lax bros, was, "Thank you for showing that there is a difference between the outside appearance of what people think of as a lax bro and the mentality that has been used to define those people." Those lax bros who had actually lived the balance of both sides, were able to most clearly see the message that I was trying to get across.

My main point was that it is important to respect the game (as the title implies) and to care and play the game to the best of your ability. This does not mean that all players who look like lax bros do not care. The lax bro culture simply gets represented by that attitude many times. For example, many people look at Connor Martin as the king of all lax bros! He has long hair, he is from the west coast, he helped inspire and lead a company that sells crazy neon-colored apparel and he is the singer and songwriter for a band that is becoming very popular. His nickname is Con-Bro Chill! But, you know what? The real-life Connor Martin that I have met and gotten to know a bit, cares about lacrosse as much as anyone I have ever seen! He gives back to the game in various ways, he trains hard in the off-season to play in the MLL and he loves the game and plays it passionately.

So, when I wrote an open letter to lax bros, it wasn't to all lax bros. It was simply to the lax bros that were misunderstanding what this game could be about for them. And it's not because I think that I'm right on how someone should play the game. It's more from my experience and from the teachings of others, that when you pour your heart into something, you are going to get more out of it.

But, what if we were to turn this topic completely around and see what we could learn from lax bros?
Here are some of the lessons that we could learn from them :

1. Have fun with the game! Sports are fun to play, no doubt. That is why we start playing them when we are young, in the first place. When we lose our joy in playing, then our performance can suffer and the game can lose all meaning. So, if  a lax bro reminds us that we should be playing for fun, then they are right. But, be careful…having fun does not mean playing without passion or intensity or working hard in the game. And having passion and dedicating yourself to the game, does not mean making it an all-encompassing aspect of your life in which you have no other interests. There is a fine-line and balance in all of this.

2. Be an individual! Lax bros certainly seem to scream individuality at times. Different colored apparel, sticks, equipment. An attitude that tells the world, "I am my own man". There is the sense that you can be an individual within a team setting. We all have our own talents and personalities and it is important to bring those various traits to our team and still be in cooperation with the other coaches and players. At the same time, it is important to ask ourselves, "Am I trying to be myself? Or am I just trying to be like all the other lax bros?". Learning to bring our best foot forward as an individual to a team setting can be an invaluable lesson for us down the road.

3. Rage against the machine! There is a certain feeling of being counter-culture in the image of a lax bro that has always been an important aspect of every generation. Every decade witnesses a new uprising, especially among the more youthful people of the time, that allows us to grow and evolve as a people. Lax bros can bring innovation and creativity to the game that could get stagnant and boring. Imagine if we were still playing lacrosse like it was back in the 80s or 90s? (Not to say that was bad lacrosse by any means! I love watching old games.) But, it's important for everything to evolve and grow and remain fresh. It keeps things interesting and pushes us to greater heights.

So, with all that being said, I have a certain respect for the lax bro culture as well as having some reservations about it. One of my favorite lessons that I learned from a good friend and teacher of mine was, "Be suspicious about everything!". That includes are own thoughts, judgements and beliefs. When I started receiving all this praise and argument over my open letter to lax bros, I started to become suspicious of my own stances. I needed to clarify that for myself and now I am sharing that with any one who reads this silly blog as well.

The last thing I want to say about all this is that I write this blog for fun. Nerd alert! I would be writing these things whether or not anyone at all ever looked at them. I just enjoy writing and philosophizing on the things that matter to me the most. Please do not ever take these blogs as some sort of authoritarian voice on any matter. If anything, read what I have to say if you enjoy it and then formulate your own opinion. And then, question that opinion too.

The only thing we can sure about in this world, is that there is a lot that we don't know. There is a great amount of beauty in the middle ground, in the space of not-knowing, where we can learn and evolve the most from. As much as we might love or despise some things, it is exciting to realize that there is wisdom in everything.